COVID-19 changed the education landscape, and here at Eagle Rock School, we’ve employed approaches to engage students remotely through the use of rightsized and easy to administer online technologies. These range from online annotation and full graphic design programs to video services and music-making platforms that truly engage students from their in-home learning environments.
To prepare our educators and staff, World Languages Instructional Specialist Josán Perales curated a class online named ER 81 Tech Tools Overview and Links to Continued Learning, which enabled our team to explore on their own and learn about the tools as if they were the students.
Below is our rundown of 15 of these tools, starting with Google Classroom:
Google Classroom is a free web service that aims to simplify creating, distributing, and sharing files between teachers and students, resulting in the ability to manage assignments in a paperless manner. Each of the tools listed below meshes well with Google Classroom. Visit the online Teacher Center for full details on using Google Classroom.
Flipgrid allows educators to create “grids” to facilitate video discussions. Each grid is like a message board, where educators can pose questions, called “topics,” and students can post video responses that appear in a tiled grid display. If you’re unfamiliar with this tool, visit Flipgrid’s YouTube Channel for videos detailing exactly how and why to use this product.
Edpuzzle is an incredibly easy-to-use video platform designed to help teachers boost student engagement and improve student learning through video lessons. The platform collects data that’s helpful to educators as students watch and interact with assigned videos. Best of all, it’s completely free! Using Edpuzzle is easy, especially when you start by viewing its YouTube tutorial, followed by this free webinar featuring Edpuzzle’s curriculum director.
Google Jamboard is an interactive, digital whiteboard that lets even far-flung teams sketch out ideas and save them in the Cloud so they can be accessed on any device. Good for protocols, discussions, and anything for which you need a whiteboard and sticky notes. You can also add images. Jamboard supports up to 16 touchpoints at once on a single device, while for the virtual world, an entire class can join the same board using the Jamboard app.
Kami is an online document annotation and markup tool that allows you and your students to highlight, underline, and strikethrough text in PDF files and other document formats. You can also use Kami to add text boxes, shapes, and images.
ActivelyLearn is a web-based reading platform allowing students to highlight, annotate, and discuss content as they read. Educators can assign texts to individual students and groups, allowing everyone the opportunity to read, annotate, and interact with one another. There’s a short Teacher Overview Video and Quickstart Guide that may be helpful to anyone interested in using the platform, and there’s also a web page devoted to integrating ActivityLearn with Google Classroom.
Newsela features a database of current events stories tailor-made for virtual classroom use. Indexed by broad themes (e.g. War and Peace, Arts, Science, Health, Law, Money), Newsela’s stories are student-friendly and can be accessed in different formats according to reading level. Use the following link to sign up as an educator, and then visit Newsela’s YouTube Channel for short and long videos explaining how to use the database.
Nearpod is a student engagement platform that can be used to amazing effect in outside the traditional classroom setting. The concept is simple. Educators use the platform to create presentations containing quizzes, polls, videos, images, drawing-boards, web content, and more. You can also use Nearpod to access thousands of standards-aligned lessons. Visit Nearpod’s YouTube Channel for tutorials on using the platform.
Flocabulary is a learning program for all grades that uses educationally-focused hip-hop music to engage students and increase educational achievement. The program has a great YouTube Channel with tutorials.
Nepris makes industry engagement part of the everyday learning experience by empowering teachers to engage students in STEAM with the support of industry experts. With Nepris, you don’t have to spend endless hours recruiting guest speakers. Nepris offers daily opportunities to join live, virtual chats with professionals on a variety of topics that prepare students for college and various careers.
Soundtrap is a cloud-based platform that affords teachers and students with opportunities to create, communicate, and collaborate on audio files, podcasts, spoken-word literature, and more. The platform — which is free for now for educators — offers a safe learning environment that can be accessed via any device, at any time, from any location.
MURAL enables teams of students to think and collaborate visually to solve problems. The site’s speed and ease of use in creating diagrams — many of which are popular in design thinking — is truly spectacular.
Padlet is a digital canvas that students can use to create projects that are easy to share and collaborate on. Padlet’s ClassKit integration makes it easy for educators to share and track student progress when working. You can use Padlet to create handouts and then share the assignment with your class.
ArtSteps offers a web-based environment that’s used to create virtual art galleries in lifelike 3D spaces. Created as an application for artists, art organizations, and art enthusiasts to model actual or virtual exhibitions by designing realistic 3-dimensional room complexes, the use for art educators and students — especially when learning remotely — is endless.
Do you have online resources and tools that you’ve found to be highly useful and engaging for students learning from home? If so, please let us know what’s in your go-to tech toolbox by leaving a comment below.